Welcome, Earthlets, to Multiver-City One, our “2000 AD” weekly review column! Every Wednesday we examine the latest offerings from Tharg and the droids over at Rebellion/2000 AD, the galaxy’s leading producers of Thrill-Power entertainment. Let’s get right to it!
THIS WEEK IN 2000AD
Judge Dredd: Kill Bloopy Part 4
Credits Kenneth Niemand (script) Dan Cornwell(art) Jim Boswell(colours)Annie Parkhouse(letters)
Michael Mazzacane: ‘Kill Bloopy’ comes to a surprisingly emotional end as the story of what happened to Billy comes out. This strip has been all about framing, what is and isn’t shown and how it is show. In the previous strip I compared Billy to a Slasher villain, which still isn’t far off as the former friend walks through a Judge tactical team as if they were nothing. The horror of that moment was paced very well by putting the initial panel of the team opening fire with the revelation of what comes next on the following. The act of turning the page made for all the time necessary to get from one image to the next and have it land with horrifying impact.
Running out of time Dredd forces the good doctor to spill the beans on what he did to Billy. He took him to see the rabbits on Mars, right before he bashed their head in with a rock. The martian landscape is a fittingly alien environment compared to the cold blues of the headquarters, Boswell’s warm reds and browns make the page stand out. Dan Cornwell’s page construction is also different, the perspective is pulled back and there is a removed feeling to this flashbacks sequence. Everything about that page is counter to what has come before, allowing it to standout and fill me with sadness and horror.
“Dredd” strips aren’t one for twist endings, but they can tend towards a sort of ironic humor and reversal of fortune. At the start it seemed we’d be ending on some kind of meditation on what counts as “murder” with imaginary friends. Instead Niemand ends on something that feels a bit more standard, the Judges are very interested in what Ditka and people like him could do for them, and also surprisingly playful as it pays off a gag setup in the second strip. Once again Cornwell’s art is the key to balancing that line with Boswell’s coloring also assisting in landing a kind of rote but funny conclusion.
This strip is a good example of tonal variety and balance as it worked through sight gags, horror, interpersonal drama, and other subjects. Individual moments landed but nothing fit incongruous with the strip as a whole.
Brink: Hate Box, Part Seventeen
Credits: Dan Abnett (script), Inj Culbard (art), Simon Bowland (letters)
Rowan Grover: “Hate Box” starts off with a change of pace as this part comes in literally guns blazing. The tension is ramped up here as Bridget and Weyowa re-enter the office in time for a shootout, where people who have been exposed to the Earth porn video have turned mad from it. Abnett cleverly uses the Hate Box as a negative in this scene, as the hiding Agustine swears quietly but has the box give away their position by chirping out one dollar fines. Bridget is also on the full take-no-prisoners mode in this prog as she dives around the office, working with Weyowa to take down threats. I love that she gets another chance to bark back at her boss Fernan too before we realize the horrifying scope of what Adriene Picazo wants to and how cleverly it has been alluded to over the last few chapters.
Culbard gets to do some bloody, action-heavy stuff in this prog and its a lot of fun to watch unfold. The usual blueish, darker palette of this series contrasts well against the stark red vibrancy of blood, making it much more shocking than it would be on a realistic color palette. Culbard also suggests motion quite well by having desk papers fly around in the air, which gives each scene a very ethereal quality. I love how strangely cartoonish it feels every time is shot by a bullet. The blood volume is on Tarantino levels yet the way that skin is ripped apart is almost like water rippling from a stone being dropped into it. It adds a lot to the unbelievable element of the scene being played out, which makes for complete story immersion.Continued below
“Hate Box” looks to finally be coming to a final confrontation, and Abnett and Culbard are making sure these progs are just as exciting as ever. Get on board to see how this long-running series ends up.
The Zaucer of Zilk: Part 5 – A Zaucerful of Zecrets
Peter Hogan (Script), Brendan McCarthy (Art, Colors, & Story), Len O’Grady (Colors), Jim Campbell (Letters)
Christopher Egan: We quickly discover that the woman who grabbed a hold of the Zaucer was truly helping him with his shoulder and had no ill will towards him. However, the Zaucer is cautiously unsure of her intentions. Painfully recovering from his re-inserted shoulder, this mystery woman introduces herself as Tamby. She reveals herself to be a fortune teller whose cards told her to come to the Zaucer’s aid. She moves on informing the Zaucer that when he is ready for her help she will come back.
The Wanderer returns to give the Zaucer his dropped wand and at this point the titular hero informs him that his information was completely false and there was no need to come to the Carnival of Light. The Wanderer brushes this off and changes the subject back to their continuing search. The Zaucer is unhappy, but decides the best thing to do is move forward. The plot threads from the previous entries are starting to come back together as the Zaucer learns about the parade of Fancy Pantses headed his way. Chrissymouth appears in a giant flying teapot to assist the Zaucer and continue on the trail of the Criminaut. The Wanderer moves on to keeping wandering away from the Zaucer.
Part 5 ends with the Zaucer and Chrissymouth catching each other up on the events at hand and moving on to the next path of their adventure. At the same time, far away and high in the skies, another mysterious woman flies over the town of Pantemonium. She soon realizes the Zaucer is on his way and admits she must be on her way before he arrives. Is she friend or foe? Looks like we will have to wait until next time!
A Zaucerful of Zecrets Part 5 gives us some additional exposition and starts to pull the multiple plot threads back together in hopes of tying them together. We meet some new characters and, for now, lose some that have been with us since part 1. A solid addition to the story that leads away from the action heavy moments of part 4, but is well done overall.
Feral & Foe: Part Five
Credits: Dan Abnett (script), Richard Ellson (art), Richard & Joe Ellson (colors), Annie Parkhouse (letters)
Christa Harader: A bit of a tone swerve this installment means Wrath’s out and about doing some soul-searching, while Bode’s lying down in a crappy back room trying not to die.
All the comedy’s gone here, and while it’s a good choice to hit this story beat it’s a bit of a shock given the last two episodes of high bombast. There’s an uneven quality, like being dropped into ice cold water, that doesn’t entirely work with a span of time in between. Abnett and Ellson are trying to say something deep about the state of Wrath & Bode’s world, but it takes a few pages to adjust to the deadly serious moment before anything begins to sink in. We’ve also seen ridiculous bad behavior from both of them, so this introspection doesn’t really land given their humorous but despicable characterization. Ellson’s art resumes a bit of its doom and gloom, save some nice insets during a particularly grisly scene (highlighted by the red and orange flames.) Parkhouse maintains her usual pro lettering quality, as stated previously.
With the foe gone, basically, and Bode in recovery, there’s naught to do but leave town and … go back to the beginning? The outlook is unclear. The bottom just dropped out of this story, and there’s additional pressure on the final installment to wrap everything satisfactorily.
Proteus Vex: Another Dawn Part 5
Michael Carroll (script), Henry Flint(art), Simon Bowland (letters)
Greg Lincoln:Things go absolutely awry as Proteus Vex and Midnight catch up to and meet his, their, quarry Baryon for the first time. Though it was a bit ambiguous in the story last week Michael Carroll definitely makes the relationship between Vex and Midnight seem like a partnership this time around. It’s most evident in the moment when Baryon makes his move and triggers the violence that ensues in this part five. Midnight proves useful and supportive in ways that are surprising given her status as a fugitive and prior captive.
Henry Flint creates a great sense of flow and motion throughout this week’s art. From Proteus Vex’s ships landing through all the talking heads scenes nothin feels static. Flint’s grasp of emotion shone through the secondary cast and particularly Midnight in the moment that Vex was “murdered” by Baryon. That one panel, the closeup on her eyes was both visually stylized and conceptual and totally readable as anguish. His approach to the action the followed was momentarily hard to follow but all did still maintain the feeling and flow of the rest of the story. In those scenes we get a explanation of the political machinations behind the choices made but it’s so clear it’s what is occurring that we should care about. The final reveal is a bit of a surprise but not too much a one as it was set up way back in part one.